This concludes my four part series in prep for that Louisville-Kentucky football rivalry game. For the past couple of days I’ve highlighted all-star teams for both Louisville and Kentucky though the years, today’s focus in on the “All-Cats” defensive squad.
First things first, there have been some transitions made here to accommodate the best roster, and to tailor the defense as a more powerful and cohesive unit. And, that starts with the safety position, first off Jeff Van Note. Usually Van Note found his place as a defensive end however I’ve moved him back mainly to create a power player behind the line. As far as Van Note individually goes, not only is his jersey retired in Kentucky but it’s also retired with the Atlanta Falcons where he played all of his pro football. In addition, as a five time pro-bowler, it’s easy to see the contributions he makes to any team.
Harry Ulinski is another pro-bowler that I’ve put at safety, generally a linebacker, he’s been shifted to safety mainly for roster reasons. In addition, I would have very little worry that Ulinski couldn’t handle the shift to safety.
The cornerback position I have a very similar situation, both corners are usually defensive ends. However, their both notable for their speed and quickness so I don’t see any huge issues with moving them back. Then, we take the speed which is up to par and add the power that a defensive end naturally brings and we have some solid defenders. First on the corner Art Still, an All-American, four time pro-bowler, Still can make an impact immediately. This noted by him making the NFL’s all rookie team during his first year in the pros.
On the other corner, Wallace Jones, who is to put it mildly versatile, lettering in both basketball and football, further Jones has the unique distinction of playing for Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant. Further his jersey have been retired in both Commonwealth Stadium as well as Rupp Arena.
In the three-prong attack of linebackers we open with Joe Federspiel, formerly a New Orleans Saint and Baltimore Colt Federspiel offers high football intelligence.
Next is Steve Meilinger, noticed in his college play Meilinger found himself excelling as well in the pros with the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
And rounding out the attack is Ashland native, Jay Rhodemyre, a veteran player who was a standout with Kentucky as well as the Packers.
Looking towards the line we start with the ends, Jerry Claiborne and Howard Schnellenberger . Ironically, both of these men saw more success as coaches than players, but that’s not to take away from their play. Claiborne in fact coached the Cats at one point, and as such what he brings is leadership.
Now Schnellenberger, I know some Kentucky facts will be questioning his loyalty. After all in Louisville’s Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium a complex is named after the man. Furthermore, he’s much beloved by Cardinals fans for getting the ball rolling again so to speak during his coaching tenure in the Derby City. However, we can’t forget he did get his start coaching as an “ends” coach at Kentucky. Besides, it’s his play as a quality end and leader that brings him to the game.
The tackle position is occupied by first Jim Kovach, a legendary defendor at Kentucky, Kovach proved to be able to compete in the pros as well playing with the Saints and 49ers. Plus, the guy studied medicine, having intelligence on your line is always helpful.
And rounding out the team is tackle, Dave Roller a strong willed defensive man who also saw time with the Giants, Packers, and Vikings.
And well, I guess that concludes the All-Card and All-Cats teams. Don’t forget kick off for the rivalry game is Saturday at seven in Lexington and it will broadcast live on ESPNU.
Image courtesy of the University of Kentucky